BlackBerry wants to make the internet of things safe for you (CNET)

In case you missed it, smart home devices are vulnerable to hackers.

Experts have been warning us for years that smart devices aren’t so smart when it comes to security, showing us how easily a car, a doll or a security camera could be hacked. And hackers have done their best to prove the cybersecurity experts right — from yelling at a baby through an internet-connected baby monitor to using vulnerable security camera systems to cripple the web’s infrastructure.

BlackBerry is betting we’ve had enough and are ready to spend a little extra on safer products.

Yes, that BlackBerry.

On Sunday, the smartphone maker launched three products designed to make internet-connected devices more secure from hacking. It plans to license the products to companies making internet-of-things devices like smart light bulbs, refrigerators and TVs as well as devices used in factories. Products that’ve integrated the BlackBerry tech will bill themselves as BlackBerry Secure.

It’s part of BlackBerry’s strategy of emphasizing mobile technology that others license, moving away from smartphone manufacturing. Its goal: to get you to think of BlackBerry as a seal of approval for your device’s security.

“2019 will be the year consumers will begin to vote with their wallets and seek out products that promise a higher level of security and data privacy,” Alex Thurber, BlackBerry’s senior vice president and manager of Mobility Solutions, said in a statement.

One of those products is a cryptographic key that makers of smart home devices insert on a microprocessor when they’re manufacturing their gadgets. Hacking the chip alters the key and causes the device to stop working.

BlackBerry is also releasing software that stops unapproved code from running on a device. That could prevent things like the 2016 Mirai attack, when hackers conscripted hordes of internet-connected devices like home routers and security cameras into a botnet to bring down a critical internet server.

There’s also a management service for devices used in factory or corporate settings. It’s designed to let companies keep tighter control of the information stored on devices and set rules on when devices are allowed to communicate with protocols like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

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6 January 2019

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